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HomePoliticsHealthMuti killings: from a client wish to a gruesome, evil death

Muti killings: from a client wish to a gruesome, evil death

Muti killings, recently brought into the spotlight again after the spine-chilling murder of a six-year-old girl in Mpumalanga, are the evil work of power- and wealth-obsessed people who believe human organs can help them enhance their status in life.

Provincial police spokesperson Selvy Mohlala told City Press that the SA Police Service had dealt with five reported cases since 2015.

The discovery of Bontle Mashiyane’s mutilated body in a thick bushy area in Mganduzweni near White River on May 21 sent shock waves across the province.

The little girl was last seen playing with her friends on April 30. Her decomposing and dismembered body was found about 2km from her home almost a month later.

A parolee, Collen Hlongwane (36), was one of five people arrested in connection with her murder.

In a video recording widely circulated on social media, Hlongwane mentioned that he and other men had murdered three other children and removed their wombs.

They were allegedly paid between R10 000 and R45 000 for the body parts.

READ: KwaZulu-Natal residents living in the shadow of a serial killer

Hlongwane claimed that he did not know the buyer of the body parts, but he knew his son.

The convicted murderer was the last person seen with the girl and he was known as a neighbour’s boyfriend.

Hlongwane, Thapelo Ngomane (25), Ntombi Mgwenya (40), Makebeletane Tsela (63) and his son, Philasande Tsela (28), have been charged with four counts of kidnapping, human trafficking, rape and murder.

They all opted not to apply for bail, reportedly, as they feared the community’s wrath. Community members have torched two of the accused’s houses. The five are due back in court on June 24.The majority of the [alleged] perpetrators have confirmed that they harvest the organs while the victim is still alive. Normally, there is a value chain of key people in these killings who are, mainly, a sangoma, the harvester [the murderer] and the victim.These operations involve more than one person, however, the sangoma is the key person.Selvy Mohlala

According to Mohlala, muti killings are incredibly gruesome, as victims are dismembered while they are still alive. Mohlala said detectives who are trained in cases related to the occult have found that the common trait among the killers was that they held a strong belief in the power of muti made from human organs. They were also most likely not very educated.

“The majority of the [alleged] perpetrators have confirmed that they harvest the organs while the victim is still alive. Normally, there is a value chain of key people in these killings who are, mainly, a sangoma, the harvester [the murderer] and the victim.

“These operations involve more than one person, however, the sangoma is the key person,” Mohlala said.Sangomas place orders for genitals, fingers, hands, knee caps, tongues and eyes.Selvy Mohlala

The killers, he said, were given varying amounts of money, depending on the offer by the person placing an order – usually the sangoma.

Mohlala said the sangomas place orders for genitals, fingers, hands, knee caps, tongues and eyes.

“They allege that they use the organs for muti, either to strengthen their personal power or their businesses.”

STUDYING THE CRIME

According to a 2004 research paper titled Features and Investigative Implications of Muti Murders in South Africa, by Gérard Labuschagne, author and former head of the SA Police Service psychology unit: serious and violent crimes, three people are usually involved in these murders – a client, a traditional healer and the murderer(s). Labuschagne has been involved in more than 30 muti murder investigations.It would not be the client himself who suggests the use of human body parts. The traditional healer is the one who decides what ingredients would be necessary to meet the client’s demands.Gérard Labuschagne

“The client is not involved in the murder and only approaches the healer to explain his need and provide the money and collect the muti when it is prepared.

“It would not be the client himself who suggests the use of human body parts. The traditional healer is the one who decides what ingredients would be necessary to meet the client’s demands,” wrote Labuschagne.

This, he said, made it difficult to convict the client in cases of muti killings, as it was hard to prove that that person had paid for the muti that would require the murder of a person.

MURDERER KNOWS THE VICTIM

Labuschagne said that the victim’s death was induced by the injuries inflicted while the body parts were being removed.

“Traditionally, the victim must be alive when the body parts are removed, as this increases the power of the muti because the body parts are believed to retain the person’s life essence,” he said.For example, if a client wanted to have more luck in gambling, the murderer might be instructed to seek out a victim known to be a “lucky person”.Gérard Labuschagne

He said that the murderer had to know the victim to a greater or lesser extent, as he had to make sure the victim met the client’s requirements.

For example, if a client wanted to have more luck in gambling, the murderer might be instructed to seek out a victim known to be a “lucky person”.

Labuschagne said that most Africans and traditional healers did not condone muti murders. They associated the practice with charlatans and evil traditional healers.

—News24

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